Institute for Gender Studies,Ochanomizu University

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas

Visiting Professor at the Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University
Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis (6-8/2005)

The 18th IGS Evening Seminar Series

Women, Migration, and the Politics of Reproductive Labor


June 13th, 27th, July 4th, 11th, and 19th (Mondays except July 19th) 2005


Rhacel Salazar Parreñas
Visiting Professor at the Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University
Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis


The Institute for Gender Studies (IGS) is pleased to announce that Dr. Rhacel Salazar Parreñas from University of California, Davis, will be hosted as our Visiting Professor from April to November 2005. On this occasion, IGS will organize its 18th evening seminar series, inviting Prof. Parreñas as its lecturer. The seminar series is entitled “Women, Migration and the Politics of Reproductive Labor.”

  Professor Parreñas research field is sociology and her research interests cover international migration, trans-nationalism, gender, family, labor, and globalization. She received her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies and B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of two books, Children of Global Migration: Transnational Families and Gendered Woes (Stanford University Press, 2005) and Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration, and Domestic Work (Stanford University Press, 2001). An edited collection (with Lok Siu): Asian Diasporas: New Perspectives, New Conceptions (Stanford University Press) is also forthcoming.

  Her latest research project is on Filipino women's labor migration, specifically of entertainers in Japan. The project addresses the issue of migrant selectivity in the Filipino labor diaspora as well as examines discourses of 'trafficking' in the everyday lives of entertainers. Field research for this project, Filipino Labor Migrants in Japan’s Nightlife Industry, will be conducted here in Tokyo at Ochanomizu University from April to November 2005.

Evening seminars are open to public. Those interested in the lecture topic are all welcome to the IGS evening seminars.

The 18th Evening Seminar Executive Committee:
Ruri ITO, Michiko ISHIZUKA, Nanako INABA, Chiho OGAYA, Brenda TENEGRA
Secretariat: Natsuko HAYASHI, Masashi HARADA, Seiko MIYAZAKI

Date Title Discussant Chair
I . June 13
Revisiting the International Division of Reproductive Labor Nana ŌISHI
(International Christian University)
Ruri ITO
(Ochanomizu University)
II. June 27
Transnational Intimacy Eunice Akemi ISHIKAWA
(Shizuoka University of Art and Culture)
Ruri ITO
III. July 4
Geographies of Race and Class Michiko ISHIZUKA
(Ochanomizu University)
(Yokohama National University)
IV. July 11
Women, the Family and the Reproduction of the Nation Jung Yeonghae
(Otsuma Women’s University)
Ruri ITO
V. July 19
Trafficking and U.S. Global Hegemony Nanako INABA
(Ibaraki University)
Ruri ITO


Seminar Overview
Rhacel Salazar Parreñas

 My evening seminars focus on the politics of reproductive labor in women’s migration. It calls attention to the increasing flow of care workers in globalization and the international transfer of reproductive labor from richer to poorer women in the global economy. It then addresses the significance of reproductive labor’s transnational commodification to the status of women and to feminist relations between women. I situate my discussion of reproductive labor in the intersections of race, class, and gender to establish the disparate interests of women.

  In the seminars, I first call attention to how globally reproductive labor remains women’s work despite the increase in women’s wage work. Second, I illustrate how the passing down of reproductive labor creates tensions between women: migrant women workers and their female kin. In so doing, I illustrate the difficulties in the formation of feminist solidarity between women who share the reproductive labor of transnational families. Third, I emphasize how class and racial inequalities that plague migrant Filipina domestic workers magnify the lack of transnational feminist solidarity among women who share the burden of housework, specifically domestics and employers who benefit from the racial exclusion of migrant domestics from the host society. Then, I end my evening seminars with two that focus on the state’s reproduction of women’s domesticity through migration policies. In establishing the state’s promotion of women’s domesticity, I show how the operation of the global economy – as it pushes for the privatization of care work – depends on the maintenance of women’s domesticity.

I. June 13, Monday 18:30-20:45
Revisiting the International Division of Reproductive Labor
Discussant: Nana ŌISHI(International Christian University)

  In both poor and rich countries, the rise in women’s productive labor activities has not led to a drastic reduction in their reproductive labor responsibilities. Yet, the shared burden of the “double day” has not become a platform of transnational feminist alliance but instead has become a source of inequality between women. In the commodification of reproductive labor, women with greater resources pass down the burden of housework to poorer women. In this lecture, I address the challenges to transnational feminism posed by unequal relations between women in the rise of migrant domestic work. It addresses the different dynamics posed by a focus on reproductive instead of productive labor in attempting to develop a transnational feminist framework of global processes. How do we develop a transnational feminist platform that accounts for relations of inequality between women employers and their migrant domestics? How do we build a transnational feminist platform that centers on the politics of reproductive labor? The lecture argues that the “scattered hegemonies” of patriarchy and state austerity should be used as transnational feminist platforms against the continued relegation of housework to women in globalization.

II. June 27, Monday 18:30-20:45
Transnational Intimacy
Discussant: Eunice Akemi ISHIKAWA(Shizuoka University of Art and Culture)

  This lecture addresses the question of whether or not women’s migration engenders the reconstitution of the gender division of labor in the family. Continuing the discussion from Lecture 1, it asks does migration ease the reproductive labor responsibilities of women. In the literature on gender and migration, there is a consensus among leading scholars that migration rewards women with greater autonomy, decision making power, and freedom. In other words, they suggest that migration emancipates women and enables women to negotiate for a fairer division of labor in the home. Studies usually use the greater income earning power of women after migration as the basis of this common assertion. By focusing on transnational intimate acts in the families of Filipino migrant mothers, I assert in this lecture that migration does not completely free women of reproductive labor responsibilities at home and at work. In the Philippines, women – migrant mothers, female extended kin, and eldest daughters – nurture the family from a far and up close. This shared burden of women is significant not only because it points to the limits in women’s liberation upon migration but also because it divides women. More specifically, it increases tensions among women by engendering the resentment of overworked female extended kin and daughters against migrant women. For its data, the lecture relies on interviews with children of migrant mothers who are left behind in the Philippines. 

III. July 4, Monday 18:30-20:45
Geographies of Race and Class
Discussant: Michiko ISHIZUKA (Ochanomizu University)

  In this lecture, I illustrate the placelessness of migrant Filipina domestic workers, meaning their experience of geographic displacement inside and outside the workplace. I utilize interviews conducted with migrant Filipina domestic workers in Rome and Los Angeles. There are three key features that illustrate what I mean by placelessness. They are: (1) the limits of their spatial movements in the workplace; (2) their segregation from the dominant public spaces of Rome and the middle-class centered Filipino migrant community of Los Angeles; and (3) the containment of the places that they can truly call their own to fleeting spaces such as buses and public parks. The placelessness of migrant Filipina domestic workers establishes the stunted integration they face upon migration. It shows how racial exclusion prominently determines their migration experience and in so doing reminds us that women’s migration are not always about gender.
In this lecture, I revisit two central discussions in the literature of migration. First, I revisit the tendency in migration studies to reduce our understanding of women’s experiences of migration to gender. While there is a push in the literature for studies that show how gender distinguishes the experiences of men and women, we risk losing sight of how race and class also shape women’s migration. Second, I call attention to Saskia Sassen’s “opposite turns of nationalism” in globalization – the denationalization of economies (the demand for migrant workers) and the renationalization of politics (the exclusion of migrant workers) – at work in the lives of migrant Filipina domestic workers. I do so to establish the lack of worth given to those performing reproductive labor in rich nations of the global economy and to call attention to the sharp racial divisions that hurt feminist ties between domestics and their employers.

UNAIDS. n.d. “Women and their Vulnerability,” Women, Gender and HIV/AIDS in East and Southeast Asia. Bangkok.

IV. July 11, Monday 18:30-20:45
Women, the Family and the Reproduction of the Nation
Discussant: JUNG Yeonghae(Otsuma Women’s University)

  The lecture examines how the trope of the family is used as a marker for the identity of the nation. I do this through an analysis of immigration laws in the United States. Lecture offers a historiography of anti-Asian immigration laws (1874-1952) to show that the protection of the modern-nuclear family is behind these laws. In so doing, I offer a reconstructed view of the history of Asian exclusion in the United States, which is often reduced to “racial exclusion” without consideration of gender. By bringing out the prominence of gender and the family in the making of national boundaries, I call for an intersectional view of “racial exclusion” and show that the story of anti-Asian exclusion is as much about the regulation of female domesticity as it is about race. In this lecture, I give consideration to how the control of women – and the ideology of separate spheres – is behind the identity of the modern nation-state. In so doing, I wish to open the question and challenge to contemporary gender and immigration scholars of analyzing how constructions of femininity are behind various immigration laws that control the movement of women in globalization.


V. July 19, Tuesday 18:30-20:45
Trafficking and U.S. Global Hegemony

Discussant: Nanako INABA(Ibaraki University)

  The control of women’s sexuality in globalization is the focus of this lecture. The discussion addresses the pressure by the U.S. State Department for other nations to impose anti-trafficking laws. Does this moral policing reflect the rise of the religious right in the United States? In this workshop, I will situate our understanding of U.S. foreign policy in trafficking in the domestic policy of the “Healthy Marriage Initiative” by the Bush administration. Is the U.S. State Department’s trafficking policy indicative of a moralistic cultural hegemony by the United States? In my deconstruction of anti-trafficking laws of the U.S. government, I will examine the relationship between the state and the family that underlies the discourse of anti-trafficking as well as the underlying construction of proper womanhood that are embedded in these laws. It thus continues the discussion from Lecture 4 that constructions of femininity are embedded in state policies that control the geographic mobility of women.

※This event is finished.


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Institute for Gender Studies,Ochanomizu University
2-1-1 Ohtsuka, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8610, Japan
Phone: 81-3-5978-5846 Fax: 81-3-5978-5845